What is a polo shirt? To many, it's synonymous with the titular Ralph Lauren, a high-key American superbrand for all things preppy athleisure. Surely indebted to old money style guides that piggybacked – and piggybanked – on Succession, the newly vibrant and widely creative category that is funky designer polo shirts has gained significant traction – above and beyond the headlined house, equestrian hobbies, or holidays in the Hamptons. Let's briefly rewind then, shall we? Because the actual origin story commences far sooner.

Polo shirt history dates back to a late 19th century India, occupied by British colonizers. The latter's players had to adapt their gear to hotter temperatures, resulting in an early-stage version of the central garment featuring a collar that was to be flipped upward for sun protection.

Fast forward another few iterations thereafter, it was a French tennis star by the name of René Lacoste – yes, that one – who decided, around 100 years ago, to break with what he found to be restrictive sports attire, and conceived of a more comfortable uniform.

So, despite the little horse embroidery we've had the habit of associating it with, we actually have the small crocodile patch to thank for the now iconic staple piece that is the polo shirt – even though it could technically be called a tennis shirt. See below for what's ensued since.

Have a Peek at Some of the Best Designer Polo Shirts

Ferragamo Green Knitted Polo Shirt

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Salvatore FerragamoGreen Knitted Polo Shirt
Buy at Browns

Maximilian Davis' new Ferragamo has been praised for its sharp, minimalist but bold aesthetic, all of which are on display here: a clear-cut silhouette to contain a sexy, juicy, grassy green knit polo shirt that elevates the elegance of its ur-form.

NOAH Long-Sleeve Jersey Polo

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NOAHStriped Cotton-Jersey Polo Shirt
Buy at Mr Porter

NOAH's made a name for itself by extracting traits of classic Anglo-Saxon apparel and infusing them with a more youthful streetwear energy. This jersey long sleeve's buttonless v-neck is a small, simple but effective demonstration of said approach.

Coperni Knotted Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt

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CoperniBlack Knotted Sleeves Polo
Buy at ssense

Coperni goes further to un-WASP and up-vamp the polo shirt: history may have been made here, seeing as these might just be the longest sleeves we've ever seen on such a top. Don't be fooled though, they're slitted to allow for the holding of drinks, phones, bags, and sure, even mallets.

Emporio Armani Linen & Cotton Zip Knit Polo Shirt

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Emporio ArmaniOpen Knit Linen-/Cotton-Blend Polo
Buy at ssense

70s style clothing references reach new heights in this knitted polo shirt by Emporio Armani. Aside from it being the decade to tip off men's polo shirts' seize of the mainstream, this particular piece's webbed, crochet-like stitching and transparency exemplify a general resurgence of the more flamboyant characteristics from that era.

Winnie New York Multicolor Mohair Knitted Polo Shirt

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Winnie New YorkMohair-Blend Polo Sweater
Buy at mytheresa

Similarly, this soft and psychedelic long sleeve revisits a 70s polo shirt and tweaks it to suit the more daring specimen of a contemporary audience. There'll be no blending with the background in this one, unless of course you plan on wearing it to some trippy light installation rather than the Argentine Open.

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